Its late summer and tomatoes fill the kitchen. Every morning we bring in another 1/2 bushel of large varieties and a large bucket of cherry and grape tomatoes. We started growing the small varieties because they are our favorite summer snack. A crystal bowl filled with mixed gem colored tiny tomatoes sits permanently on our table throughout the season.
It is easy to think of ways to preserve the larger tomatoes. Jars of tomato basil soup, spaghetti sauce, bruschetta, salsas, diced tomatoes, and tomato jam all line my canning room shelves. Dried and powdered paste tomatoes wait quietly to be rehydrated into sauce and soups.
But what can you do with so many small tomatoes once you’ve snacked on all you can eat? Our answer involves two recipes that bring summer bursting forth in the kitchen in the dead of winter. We roast huge amounts of the cherry tomatoes, freeze them, and then incorporate them into Penne with Roasted Tomatoes and Goat Cheese for a quick winter meal with warm crusty bread.
Oven-Roasted Cherry Tomatoes
- Cherry, or grape, tomatoes: halved
- Kosher salt
- Olive oil
On a parchment lined baking sheet, place tomato halves cut side up so they just touch each other. Fill the sheet completely full. Drizzle with olive oil, then sprinkle with kosher salt. Bake at 250 degrees for two hours. Store in airtight bags or tubs and place in freezer until needed. We store them in 2-cup portions.
Penne with Roasted Tomatoes and Goat Cheese
- 1 pound penne pasta
- 1 quart vegetable broth
- 3 quarts water
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 6-8 ounces herbed goat cheese
- 1 large bunch fresh basil, chopped
- 2 cups roasted cherry tomatoes
- 1/2 cup reserved cooking liquid
- 1 tsp. good olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
In a large pot bring the water, broth, and salt to a boil. Cook the pasta in the liquid and then reserve ½ cup of the cooking liquid. Then drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Add reserved liquid, goat cheese, tomatoes, basil, olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss well and serve immediately.
By saving summer cherry tomatoes this way, and growing a pot of basil in a sunny window in the house, you can surprise your family with the taste summer whenever you wish. There are other ways to use those roasted cherry tomatoes as well, so don’t limit your little gems to summertime.
- To top pizzas
- In grilled cheese or tuna sandwiches
- On toasties with cream cheese
- In omelets and frittatas
- In risotto
- With bread salad
Dehydrating excess cherry tomatoes is another way to preserve them. Cut them in half and place in your dehydrator at 135 degrees. Run the machine for 8-10 hours until the tomatoes are dry yet pliable. Keep them in a freezer safe bag for wonderful wintertime snacks. They are also delicious tossed with pastas and cream sauce, thrown into soups and stews for bursts of flavor, or added to sandwiches for a tasty crunch.
So go ahead and plant those cherry tomato plants with abandon! Plant 5, or 10, or 20. You’ll know what to do with all the excess. You’ll be oven roasting and dehydrating this summer and you’ll be enjoying your own little tomatoes right up until next year’s harvest. We plant multiples of Cherry Roma, Sugar Cherry, Green Doctors, Black Cherry, Napa Chardonnay, Sunrise Bumblebee, and Sungold cherry tomatoes. These create colorful dried tomatoes to enjoy later in the year, and they are some of the best tasting ones we’ve found for fresh snacking. What will you plant this year?